Falcons Edge Out Sharks Under Friday Night Lights

SALFORD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: The players of Newcastle Falcons celebrate victory over Sale Sharks after the Aviva Premiership match between Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons at AJ Bell Stadium on September 8, 2017 in Salford, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The North East club continue their winning ways with a one point victory as Newcastle Falcons beat Sale Sharks at the A J Bell Stadium.

The opening match of round two of the Aviva Premiership season could not have been more of a contrast to last weekends season opener. We were spoilt with entertainment during round one of the new Premiership season from start to finish. Newcastle Falcons beat Sale Sharks in last nights 12-13 arm-wrestle in the North West.  It may not have been another thrilling encounter but Newcastle will happily take the win. We discuss some of the most telling aspects of the fixture.

Sharks Malfunctioning Line-Out’s And Handling Skills

Cameron Nield received a rare start at hooker after spending much of last season in the back row. Sale will have been looking to add Nield’s dynamism to the front row in addition to new backrow signings Jono Rossand Josh Strauss as well as England hopefuls, the Curry twins. No team, however, are able to make full use of their key players when their line-out operates at 58%. Sale’s line-out operated at such poor levels, the Newcastle defence began to stagger their lines in preparation for the turnover. The absence of kiwi second row Bryn Evans and former England hooker Rob Webber was clear to see.

Despite this complete failure at set piece, Sale still offered the most potent attack. It is unfortunate that knock-ons scupperued multiple scoring opportunities. Left wing Byron McGuigan in particular produced three handling errors in the opposing twenty-two.

De Klerk Shines In Defeat

One of the few positives Sale fans can take away from this second straight defeat of the season, is that Faf de Klerk looks the business. The eleven times-capped Springbok scrum-half was at the heart of so much of Sale’s attacking threat. The halfback looked sharp and backed himself to take the game to the Falcons. De Klerk could be the spark Sale need to get their season into winning ways. Another positive for Sale is the 100% success rate of Fly-half AJ MacGinty from the boot, keeping his side in front for the majority of the match. 

Newcastle Hold On To Winning Start

The visiting side struggled to put their own mark on the match. Director of Rugby Dean Richards’ team found themselves on the wrong side of both possession and territory stats. The Falcons should count themselves lucky Sale’s performance was so error strewn, especially in their twenty-two. With McGuigan dropping the ball over the try line in the first ten minutes, the Falcons were inches from defeat. A 73rd minute penalty try in the end was the difference between the two sides. Substitute hooker Marc Jones conceded the seven automatic points and a yellow card for pulling down Newcastle’s maul.

The visiting sides attack seemed stumped and far a field from the threat it was last season. With the cavalry of Toby Flood, Vereniki Geneva, Sinoti Sinoti, DTH Van de Merwe and Maxime Mermoz returning in drips and drabs, Falcons attack has room to improve. Newcastle head into round three with two wins from two, sitting atop the league prior to the weekends remaining fixtures.

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